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Half of landlords more likely to sell over Section 21 plan

Hopefully members saw this article when the RLA published it this month, but if you did not, the RLA's biggest ever survey of more than 6,500 landlords revealed more than 46% plan to sell and another 40% are waiting to hear more details of planned changes before they make decisions on their ability to provide homes to rent. We know many of our members participated in this survey, and the results fit with our anecdotal experience  - thank you for participating.

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When a Tenant Goes To Prison...

One of our members asked for advice using our questions facility on what to do with the belongings of a tenant who had been sent to prison. Read his summary of the responses and his situation...

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Education For Local Landlords

If you are a local landlord, we encourage you to attend some of the training courses we have scheduled this year - many of us became landlords as an investment but those of us who have been doing it for a while will have realised that you either outsource everything to an agent or you treat it as a profession and for that, you need training.

(And even if you outsource, you are still legally responsible for the actions of your agent - so if you are better educated, you can better judge whether the agent is doing what the law requires he/she do for you).

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The HMO Conundrum

You may have seen the articles in The News this month summarising the dismay (and often unfounded and ill-advised ranting) of those on the Portsmouth Planning committee as HMO"s have been allowed on appeal after the Planning Committee went against the advice of planning officers employed by the council and rejected applications for HMO developments that met all of Portsmouth"s very stringent local rules….

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Portsmouth Developing Homelessness Strategy

The consultation on Portsmouth"s proposed Homelessness Strategy ended this week - there were some issues as the email address for responses does not exist, but hopefully all those who wished to participate found alternative contact details.

The PDPLA"s response is below.

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PCC told their licence condition “would be a waste of time, effort and money”

In the first of the current string of appeals against PCC licensing decisions to come before a Tribunal, PDPLA member Lucy Fryer has won her appeal against PCC"s judgement on what constitutes a small room.

The legal requirement for a bedroom in an HMO is that it be at least 6.51 sq m. That is small, but subject to layout and furnishings it can be quite acceptable and it avoids wasting the small bedroom that was added to many Portsmouth houses when they were built in the 1920"s and 30"s.  They are popular, as landlords tend to offer them much more cheaply than larger rooms and when living with a group of friends, having a small room and low rent, but still having access to the rest of the house is often seen as a very desirable solution.

The room in question was larger than required, it had a sloping ceiling, two Velux windows and ensuite facilities. The Council wanted the latter removed. The Tribunal decided this "would be a waste of time, effort and money which would not serve any statutory purpose."

We have at least 7 more appeals coming up starting on the 8th May and will update on those in the next newsletter.

The tribunal made some interesting observations, read on for a summary of their key points.  

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PDPLA Support Parliament 'Healthy Homes & Buildings' Group

The PDPLA has input to discussions by the APPG (All Party Parliamentary Group) who have been looking at the impact that poor housing has on health.  We have long argued that HHSRS is not fit for purpose - allowing council officers across the country to 'appear to be doing something useful' whilst in reality, having little impact on health or safety.

We are hopeful that this APPG will come up with something better. Read on for an interesting graphic of their findings so far including details of the £2.5Bn cost to the NHS of poor housing and the £18Bn social and economic cost.

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Is Being A Landlord All About Tax?

The answer is obviously, no - tax is periphery and everyone pays it, so while you should take care to only pay what is due and not overpay, happy tenants, safe houses and stable finances are more important.

If only it were that easy though. Britain's 'tax code' which defines which taxes are due, runs to 17,000 pages - the longest in the world  (the average bible is 1,200 pages, Lord of The Rings (all 3 books) is about the same). So in a way, it is not surprising the average landlord seems to spend far too much of their time trying to work out how much tax they need to pay. It also explains why there are 200,000 working accountants in this country - just think of all the useful things 200,000 people could do if they were not wasting their working lives worrying about other peoples taxes...

There follows a summary of current tax changes from the Federation of Small Businesses, a link to one of HMRC's webinars (which are well worth attending as the 'onscreen chat' gets you answers to specific questions far quicker than their telephone helpline) and a reminder of our forthcoming PDPLA tax education sessions running through May and June - do make sure you book your place.

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Section 21 To End, What Comes Next?

The government have been swayed by pressure from Shelter and others and have decided to stop landlords regaining possession of their property using Section 21 notices. What will replace it is unclear and there will be consultations before anything is finalised, but you can rest assured that the PDPLA will be articulating the impact upon its members of any of the proposed alternatives.

We received extensive coverage in The News when our Vice-Chair, Alwin Oliver focussed on the fact that currently, many mortgage lenders depend on the availability of the Section 21 when offering finance and one unexpected outcome could be that mortgage cover requirements could rise considerably, making funding much harder to acquire.

Have you ever used a Section 21 to get your property back? If you have, we'd like to know why as if the 'Shelter perspective' is inaccurate, we need to be able to show evidence of that.  Read on for member comments and our press release explaining more of our concerns

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Don't Use Your Pension To Buy A House

We know many of our members do not trust banks or financial institutions and attempt to fund their pensions by buying and letting property.  This may make sense, but with increasing regulation and also, the high cost of maintaining property to a good standard and the significant overhead of either managing your tenants or paying someone else to do so, sometimes we wonder whether it is worth it.

To present a contrarian view, we publish an article originally published in the Financial Times by columnist and Money Week editor, Merryn Somerset Webb.

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HMO 'Private Data' Public Again!

After our successful campaign over 3 or 4 years, in 2016 Portsmouth City Council finally agreed to stop sharing the names and addresses of HMO landlords. We had hoped that the introduction of GDPR last year would cement our right to privacy and control of our personal data but unfortunately, this has not been the case and PCC have reversed their position and are now sharing our details with all and sundry.

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Client Money Protection / Property Redress Becomes Law

As of 1st April, 2019 anyone managing a property for someone else needs to belong to a recognised property redress scheme.

 

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One PDPLA Members Experience Of Let To Let

'Let to let' can be appealing - you avoid all the hassle of letting and managing your property and you don't give away 12-15% of your income to a letting agent, but our advice to members has always been to be very careful, check that you are not breaching your mortgage conditions, planning rules on HMO's or any other regulations and ensure that your contracts give you control not only of your relationship with your tenant, but also any tenants they let your property to.....

There was a question posed to members recently asking for feedback in this area and what follows, is one members experience and recommendations to other members....

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Local Labour Groups Propose Licensing and Registration

In a pre-election newsletter to Portsmouth residents, local labour campaigners talk of introducing landlord registration for all, more HMO licencing, training for landlords, codes of conduct and liaison officers to manage us - among other proposals.

Read on to see how we responded....

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Are you a Freeholder, a leaseholder or a commonholder?

People have had the option to buy homes in England and Wales via a commonhold structure since 2004, but since then only 20 developments have been created. By contrast, there are 4.2 million properties owned as leaseholds in England alone. Why is that when the benefits of leasehold are so few and the pain experienced so frequent?

The commonhold property structure allows the purchaser of a property to own a freehold 'unit", usually a flat within a block, without any kind of time limit on that ownership (as opposed to leasehold properties, which are leased for a set period of time from the freeholder). Owners of a commonhold flat then become members of a management company, similar to a residents association, that looks after the shared areas and buildings in the way that a freeholder traditionally would.

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Written & oral information and advice from the Portsmouth & District Private Landlord's Association is given in good faith, but no responsibility whatsoever is accepted by the Association or it's officers for the accuracy of it's information & advice nor shall the Association be held responsible for the consequences of reliance upon such information.

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